AWS has launched the Amazon WorkSpaces Thin Client, a hardware device for employees at home and in large contact centers.
Optimized for the AWS cloud, the device offloads processing power from the employee workspace to the cloud.
With the Thin Client, employees in high turnover environments – like remote contact centers – may use lower-cost laptops and tablets without accepting poorer performance from their tech.
Moreover, brands don’t have to spend so much money shipping out expensive employee devices.
AWS shared the innovation at its annual re:invent conference, with Dilip Kumar, Vice President of AWS, also publishing the news on LinkedIn to much fanfare.
In his post, Kumar gave props to Melissa Stein, Director of Product for End User Computing at AWS, and her team for building the solution on the Amazon Fire TV Cube platform.
It is the first time the enterprise tech giant has adapted a consumer product into an external hardware device for AWS customers – emphasizing its ingenuity.
“We looked for options and found that the hardware we used for the Amazon Fire TV Cube provided all the resources customers needed to access their cloud-based virtual desktops,” said Stein.
So, we built an entirely new software stack for that device, and since we didn’t have to design and build new hardware, we’re passing those savings along to customers.
Yet, before all this, the journey to the Thin Client’s release started with a series of interviews, where Stein and her team engaged with large enterprise AWS customers, asking them about their cost, management, and security concerns.
According to Stein, the same pain point kept cropping up: I’m sick of shipping off expensive laptops to employees, who then leave and fail to send them back.
Of course, that’s a lot of admin. Yet, IT spending can also spiral when buying, sending, managing, and recovering all these new desktops.
Then, the eureka moment: what if an IT leader can centrally manage their entire organization’s device fleet?
A straightforward idea, and Stein strived to keep it that way. “Simplicity was key, and it just works out of the box,” she stated. “IT… typically have an employee up and running in a few minutes, compared to hours or days with traditional laptops and desktops.”
Indeed, the process for setting up the thin client is clear-cut – as the video below exemplifies.
Yet, the Thin Client is much more than a cost-cutter; it’s a security advancement too.
Indeed, as the AWS Cloud powers the Thin Client, the device does not store data locally. Instead, it only runs the data through software approved by IT administrators.
As such, businesses avoid vulnerabilities that may arise when employees lose their devices or leave the company without returning their laptops.
Also, on-device hardware authentication fortifies the secure connection to an employee’s desktop in the cloud. As does secure browser-only access (WorkSpaces Web) – alongside integrations with persistent desktops (WorkSpaces) and nonpersistent applications (Amazon AppStream).
In the AWS Management Console, managers may also gain real-time visibility into whether devices are active and running on the latest software to quell security concerns further.
Furthermore, they may control which apps employees leverage while configuring permissions, policies, and access controls for different teams.
With all of these security features, AWS also paves the way for brands to embrace a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) strategy – which will stop the expense of sending out desktops altogether.
Reflecting on all this potential, Stein concludes:
Applications are in the cloud, connectivity is there, and we want to be able to access our desktop from anywhere. [The thin client enables this], all at a time when customers are saying, ‘We really, really need to look at our overall cost equation.’
Sold through the Amazon Business – Amazon’s B2B marketplace – Amazon WorkSpaces Thin Clients start at $195 per device.
While that may still seem expensive, AWS estimates that most laptops employees use to access virtual desktops “typically” cost employers $600–$1,200 each.
Meanwhile, the vendor underlines that its Thin Clients often come pre-configured, with AWS offering to send them quickly and securely to employees’ homes to enhance the deployment experience.
Elsewhere, AWS revealed that businesses may run the Webex Contact Center on the new Thin Client – bringing the innovation to even more large contact centers.
The announcement was – however – somewhat overshadowed by the news of AWS expanding its partnership with Salesforce.
As a result, Salesforce now supports Amazon Bedrock, its Data Cloud enables data sharing across AWS technologies, and – perhaps most notably – its Service Cloud integrates much more deeply with Amazon Connect.
To catch up on this massive news story, check out our article: Salesforce Products to be Offered on AWS Marketplace in Expanded Partnership